VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - In his Pentecost missives, Pope Francis is warning that post-pandemic life will be different, so the faithful must take advantage of this opportunity to improve the lives the poorest of our society, a major focus of his pontificate.
"All this suffering will be of no use if we don't build a more just and fair society together," the pontiff said in his Pentecost-eve, video message published by CHARIS (Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service).
"Today the world suffers — is wounded especially in the poor, who are discarded," the pope said, alluding to the suffering the Wuhan pandemic has wrought.
To address the suffering, "More than ever we need the Father to send the Holy Spirit," in order "to heal our fears, heal our wounds to make us disciples," he said.
Speaking to the vulnerabilities the pandemic has imposed, he said: "When all our human securities have disappeared," the faithful must "witness to the gospel, the gospel of Jesus. We need the Spirit to give us new eyes, open our minds and hearts," and move to future with this lesson: "We are one humanity."
The pope expanded on these themes in his Homily for Holy Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost, appealing to openness and unity throughout.
He said, "The Spirit himself opens doors and pushes us to press beyond what has already been said and done, beyond the precincts of a timid and wary faith."
Distinguishing state and Church modes of operation he said, "In the world, unless there is tight organization and a clear strategy, things fall apart," adding, "In the Church, however, the Spirit guarantees unity to those who proclaim the message."
It is important "to believe that God is gift, that He acts not by taking away, but by giving," the pontiff emphasized. "[W]e grow by giving — not by holding on but by giving of ourselves."
The pope cautioned — using novel terms — that "always lurking at the door of our hearts" are three main enemies of "the gift," namely, "the mirror-god," "the complaint-god" and "the negativity-god."
"Narcissism," the mirror-god, "makes us idolize ourselves, to be concerned only with what is good for us," he explained. "In this time of pandemic, how wrong narcissism is — the tendency to think only of our own needs, to be indifferent to those of others and not to admit our own frailties and mistakes."
The second enemy, victimhood, makes "Victims complain every day about their neighbor" which is particularly "ugly," he exclaimed, "in the crisis we are experiencing."
The third enemy, according to the pope's homily, is pessimism, which he defines as "the tendency to see everything in the worst light and to keep saying that nothing will return as before!"
The pope's solution is "the Holy Spirit, the gift of God, who heals us of the three enemies."
The pope ended his homily with a prayer that underscores his iteration that, worse than the pandemic, would be "the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves":
Brothers and sisters, let us pray to him: Holy Spirit, memory of God, revive in us the memory of the gift received. Free us from the paralysis of selfishness and awaken in us the desire to serve, to do good. Even worse than this crisis is the tragedy of squandering it by closing in on ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit. You are harmony; make us builders of unity. You always give yourself; grant us the courage to go out of ourselves, to love and help each other, in order to become one family. Amen.
The pontificate of the 263rd successor of St. Peter has been characterized by expressions of solidarity with the poor and the Muslim immigrants demonstrated in the theory and practice of liberation theology, which distinguishes Francis' tenure from his immediate predecessors'.
Liberation theology emphasizes the duty of Christians to aid the poor and oppressed through civic and political mechanisms that focus on, according to critics, the material world to the neglect of tending to the salvation of souls.
When the designated "father of liberation theology" Gustavo Gutiérrez OP, celebrated his 90th birthday in 2018, Francis sent him a personal greeting: "Thank you for your efforts and for your way of challenging everyone's conscience, so that no one remains indifferent to the tragedy of poverty and exclusion."